Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust (TAIT) has more than 140 employees. Each employee is essential to TAIT’s mission to provide a safe, efficient and self-supporting airport system.
Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust Executive Team
Alexis Higgins, A.A.E.
Chief Executive Officer
Ms. Higgins has been with the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust for over 20 years, and was named Chief Executive Officer in March 2019 after serving previously as Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Director of Marketing & Community Relations. As Chief Executive Officer, she develops organizational policy, administers all activities associated with the operation of Tulsa International Airport and Tulsa Riverside Airport, and sets the organization’s annual and strategic business plans. She graduated cum laude from the University of Tulsa Business School, where she was named Outstanding Marketing Graduate, with a degree in Marketing and double minors in Management and Russian Language. She achieved the professional designation of Accredited Airport Executive from the American Association of Airport Executives in June 2010. In addition to her work at the airport, she serves on the advisory boards of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and Tulsa Community College’s aviation program. She also actively supports Challenge Air for Kids and serves on their Tulsa Fly Day event committee.
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Paul Myers joined the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust (TAIT) in April 2022 to serve as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Mr. Myers will be responsible for leading the daily operations of TAIT, including airport operations, customer experience, human resources, and information technology for Tulsa International Airport and Tulsa Riverside Airport. Bringing more than 15 years of aviation leadership experience, Mr. Myers most recently served on the executive leadership team for an international Part 121 air carrier operating Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 aircraft. In this position, he led the organization’s safety and security team overseeing strategy, regulatory compliance, and technology advancement. Mr. Myers is a graduate of Oklahoma State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in aviation, a Master’s Degree in aviation, and a graduate certificate in aviation security. In addition to his current position at TAIT, Mr. Myers is an Adjunct Professor of aviation at Oklahoma State University.
Andrew Pierini, C.M.
Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer
Mr. Pierini joined TAIT in April 2019. Mr. Pierini has broad experience from both the airline and aircraft manufacturing industries, most recently working in the Commercial Sales and Marketing organization for the Boeing Company, where he supported sales campaigns and consulted with airlines globally in expanding their route networks and fleet requirements. Mr. Pierini started his career at Southwest Airlines where he worked in Network Planning with roles focusing on network strategy and capacity planning, both domestically and abroad. Mr. Pierini holds a bachelor’s degree in Aviation Management from the University of Oklahoma and a Master of Business Administration degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Spino joined the Airport in February 2015 as the Accounting Manager and was elevated to Chief Financial Officer in July 2018 upon the retirement of the former Deputy Director of Finance and Administration. Mr. Spino earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Finance from the University of Rhode Island and a Master of Business Administration from Norwich University, where he completed the program summa cum laude. Mr. Spino was elected a member of Delta Mu Delta, an International Business Honors Society while completing his Master’s program. Mr. Spino has over twenty years’ experience in finance ranging from banking to real estate, working for such organizations as AMB Property Corporation, JP Morgan Chase, and Boston Financial Data Services. Prior to joining the Airport Mr. Spino held positions with Franklin Street Properties Inc. in Wakefield Massachusetts an investment firm specializing in and focusing on the asset class of real estate. Mr. Spino was the Assistant Controller for Symes Associates Inc., located in Beverly Massachusetts, a private real estate management and development firm.
Matthew Ellis, PE
Mr. Matthew Ellis joined Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust (TAIT) in May 2022 to serve as the Director of Technology and Innovation. Mr. Ellis is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Oklahoma in Electrical Engineering and holds industry certifications for both electrical testing, engineering, and IT. He provides leadership for the teams that oversee the complete technology footprint of the airports and provides the roadmap for improvement of the airport technology environment. This includes: data systems, cloud solutions, servers, enterprise software, building security infrastructure, cyber security, wired/wireless networking infrastructure, fire panel controls, access controls, CCTV, and low voltage cabling and fiber at all TAIT sites.
Mr. Ellis carries a broad and diverse background in industrial power system protection and controls, process control networks, and enterprise information technology and security. Bringing nearly 15 years of experience, his roles included serving as Director of Technology and CTO for both local EPCs and a nationwide power system solutions provider. He graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and will soon complete his Master of Business Administration from the University of Tulsa with an election to Beta Gamma Sigma. He has presented at IEEE conferences, NETA conferences, and published IEEE journals in the area of Smart Grid network protocols and IEC61850 industrial process network communications. He has also presented seminars for building enterprise technology solutions as well as cyber security for the electrical services industry.
Director, Human Resources
Ms. Colbry joined TAIT in February of 2016, after relocating to Tulsa from West Michigan. She holds her Bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal and Public Communications with a minor in Business Administration from Central Michigan University. In 2010, Ms. Colbry earned the accreditation of Professional in Human Resources (PHR) while serving as HR Manager at a large Michigan manufacturing company. At TAIT, she was promoted to the position of Director of Human Resources in May of 2017, with responsibility over all human resources functions including employee staffing, retention, development, relations, compensation, benefits and compliance. In addition to her work in Human Resources, Ms. Colbry currently chairs the TAIT Safety Committee and Charitable Giving Committee.
Director, Customer Experience
Mr. Crook joined TAIT in April 1989 as a Building Maintenance Worker, then worked as the High Security Locksmith for 22 years. Mr. Crook was promoted to Building Maintenance Supervisor in 2014, and then in 2017 Mr. Crook was promoted to Building Maintenance Manager. In his current role, attained in March 2019, he oversees all aspects and touchpoints that impact the customer’s total experience and satisfaction at the Airport. Mr. Crook graduated summa cum laude from Oklahoma Wesleyan University with his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2016.
Frank Relja, P.E.
Director, Engineering and Planning
Mr. Relja joined TAIT as Airports Facilities Engineer in July, 1995, became Senior Engineer in July, 2000, moved into the Facilities Section Chief position in August 2004, and was appointed to his current position in July 2016. Prior employment included Project Manager for the consulting firm HNTB, (1987-1995), Design Engineer and Estimator for JEM Engineering, (1985-1987) and Inspector for the Missouri Department of Transportation, (1983-1985). He attended the University of Missouri-Rolla (Missouri S&T) and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. Mr. Relja is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Oklahoma and a member of the Order Of The Engineer.
Jeff Shaw, C.M., ACP
Director, Risk and Legal Services
Mr. Shaw joined the Airport in June 2011. Mr. Shaw holds a certified paralegal designation with an advanced certification in trademarks. He currently works with all Airport departments to ensure that risk management and insurance issues are properly addressed as well as managing, supervising, and directing all out-sourced legal work.
Mr. Shaw began his career in 1994, as a litigation paralegal at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, concentrating on complex environmental defense litigation involving historical oilfield operations, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Superfund (CERCLA) and other issues, including significant environmental matters at San Francisco International Airport and Miami International Airport. Mr. Shaw also assisted a trade group of federal oil and gas lease holders in crafting federal legislation that came to be known as the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Simplification and Fairness Act of 1996 (FOGRSFA). In early Fall of 2001, Mr. Shaw went to work at the Tulsa, Oklahoma law firm Hall, Estill, Hardwick, Gable, Golden and Nelson, PC, again focusing on complex litigation defense, primarily large-scale construction litigation involving multinational Deepwater Gulf of Mexico SPAR and Tension Leg Platform (TLP) construction issues. He has assisted “at the table” in numerous state and federal trials in many jurisdictions, and has also managed complex, large-scale document productions.
Mr. Shaw graduated from Tulsa Community College with a degree in paralegal studies in 1996 with honors, and was admitted Phi Theta Kappa.
Austin Wheeler, C.M., ACE
Airport Manager for Tulsa Riverside Airport
Mr. Wheeler joined TAIT in August 2015 as an airfield operations officer. He graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Administration and Operations. In 2016 he received the designation of airport certified employee in operations through the American Association of Airport Executives. In June 2019, Mr. Wheeler was promoted to Airport Manager at Tulsa Riverside Airport, the reliever airport to Tulsa International. Mr. Wheeler enjoys overseeing the day to day operations at the busiest airport in the state of Oklahoma.